Exercise and Children on the Autism Spectrum

I am the mother of a 10-year-old boy who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. The road is very challenging, however, I have learned so much since coming to Life Fitness Academy. There is a major correlation between nutrition, exercise, and chiropractic care for Aspy kids, and kids who vary on the autism spectrum. There are so many avenues I can take this article, but today I want to start with the benefits of exercise for an autistic child (and also help the parents sanity!!).

Exercise is something the entire family can, and should, be doing together. Whether it’s at separate workouts, or going for a family run or bike ride, everyone can participate in one way or another. Exercise and movement is key to the well being of an autistic child. “Heavy work” and deep pressure movements have been proven methods of therapy for autism. Some simple ways to incorporate exercise and deep pressure is with body weight exercises and calisthenics. Push ups, lunges, squats, and sit ups are just to name a few. Another great exercise is the “burpee.” (Not only will your child love to say “burpee”, the exercise involves a lot of motion).

Another benefit of exercise and autism is coordination and sensory skills. If you haven’t noticed, it takes a lot of coordination to catch a ball, ride a bike, and even run! Most autistic spectrum (especially Aspy kids) can play video games for hours, thus having exceptional hand-eye coordination. Put a ball in the kid’s hand, or have him run a 100-yard dash and watch him soar! Exercising in different environments and using different forms of exercise can stimulate the senses of the child. Being in different social settings where the senses are challenged can encourage social communication and focus. Exercise in social settings can also reduce insecurity, promote value, help develop social skills, and can encourage the child to potentially join a sports team.

First thing to beginning exercise is to actually start! It will be challenging to introduce a new objective into the child’s already established routine, so take baby steps. Incorporate the exercise into the child’s schedule at the same time of day. Maybe start with two times per week, and build up by adding a day every 1 to 3 months. Go for about 10-15 min to start, also building in time. You know your child in order to determine how big of a time jump you can make to keep the child calm (without too much change). Also, keep the exercises fun and consistently changing. If they start to lose interest or get distracted, give encouragement or incentive for completion, such as earning “points” toward a special event.

*DO THIS to start: 5 push ups, 5 squat jumps, 10 walking lunges, 5 burpees and 30 seconds of fast feet (running in place really quick). Repeat 2-4times. This is a great way to start, and it can be done in your living room.

Be watching for more articles pertaining to parenthood and the importance of the health of your child!

By: Amanda Tungett
Autism Speaks

One Reply to “Exercise and Children on the Autism Spectrum”

  1. I think we can all agree that exercise is important for the quality of life. Keeping core and leg muscles functioning at the best possible level will help with everyday chores and independence.

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